Seattle's police union leaders have filed a complaint against Mayor Ed Murray's body camera mandate. Murray issued an executive order this month to require all officers to wear body cameras while on duty.
The Seattle Police Officer's Guild says it’s not opposed to the technology, but it should be subject to collective bargaining with the city.
The guild has filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the state's Public Employees Relations Commission, contending Murray disregarded state law by requiring body cameras. PERC helps resolve labor disputes either through a hearings process or by facilitating settlements.
SPOG president Kevin Stuckey said there are questions the guild wants answered before the city moves forward with body cameras. For example, SPD does not have clear guidelines on what to do when civilians ask for the body cameras to be turned off.
SPOG represents over 1,300 officers as the largest police labor union in the Northwest.
When Murray signed his executive order, he said “body cameras improve behavior and de-escalation on both sides of the camera.” He said Seattle has taken too long to adopt the technology, in part because of “gridlock” over the issue.
But Stuckey said body cameras simply haven’t been a topic recently in the mediation process between SPOG and the city.
Murray's executive order will remain in place for now. It requires all officers and sergeants to wear body cameras by early 2018. Bike officers in the West Precinct were required to start using the equipment by July 22, and other precincts will follow.
The City Attorney's Office says it looks forward to defending the body camera requirement before PERC and, if necessary, before the courts. Once PERC issues a ruling, the city will have 20 days to respond to the complaint.
Attorneys for the city say “the city places a high value on collective bargaining, has met or exceeded its obligations regarding the executive order, and remains committed to collective bargaining in the future.”